Comments needed on hours of service

Created: 1/23/18 (Tue) | Topic: Issues

January 23, 2018: Farmers and ranchers have to transport everything they produce. In an already tight farm economy, when substantial, additional costs are incurred because of hours of service restrictions, maybe it's time to start changing the rules to better reflect the needs of the ag community.

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Often federal regulatory over-reach results in infringement on our freedoms and opportunities. And a case in point, going on right now, which we need everyone to comment on, deals with electronic logging devices in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rules regarding ELDs.

Now, it’s not necessarily the electronic logging device that is the issue. However, the mandated use of them has brought to light the decades of that over-reach and over-regulation. Regulations that are infringing on the ability to transport goods and services, which is extremely important to agriculture, as we deal with perishable and live commodities.

We have made great strides in enhancing the care that provide in transportation of all of the food that we grow. That care that we’ve spent years improving upon, and will spend years improving upon from today is in jeopardy by the mandate of the ELD.

An example: If you’re in central North Dakota and you have to deliver a load of cattle to Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha, Nebraska is an 11-hour drive. You’re only allowed to drive 11 hours in a 14-hour day. But, your time on the log includes the loading time, your fueling time, your time from the time the trucker leaves his place and gets to that farmer’s place. And let’s say that only takes an hour. That leaves 10 hours to make an 11-hour drive. It’s not possible.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, who we are nationally affiliated with, is asking for a five-year exemption so that we can get better data, better understanding and come to a working solution of how these should be implemented, not just by people sitting in an office thinking they know what our jobs entail on farms and ranches, but they actually have dialogue with farmers and ranchers to develop the codes that are needed for the safety of our people.

Up until February 1, you can comment on the ELD, the hours of service mandate, by going to the, by typing in hours of service regulatory guidance and then, when that page comes up, scroll to the 12-20-2017 document. Provide your comments. Ask for an exemption, so that we can have a better dialogue. Because at NDFB, we believe that freedom, opportunity and – this is the important one – self-reliance, can cure a lot of issues.

Government isn’t always the answer. We believe people can be the answer. And this is one of those situations where we have the opportunity to help provide that answer.  

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